Monday, October 20, 2008

And, Now, For Something Completely Different ...

In a year that will give America either its first black president or its first female vice president, I guess it's only fitting that major league baseball, too, will produce a champion that breaks the mold.

The Tampa Bay Rays, of course, are an expansion team. Formed in 1998 as the "Devil Rays" but renamed by the owner in 2007 to be "a beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Bay and across the entire state of Florida," Tampa Bay's baseball team actually plays in twin city St. Petersburg.

The team qualified for the playoffs for the first time this year, so winning the World Series would be a first for Tampa Bay as well.

The Philadelphia Phillies, on the other hand, have been to the World Series before. But they haven't been there often — five times in all. They even won it once — way back in 1980, when the Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals.

The Phillies' last appearance in the World Series was 15 years ago, when they lost in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays.

At the time, Philadelphia appeared to be on the verge of becoming a force to reckon with in the National League, but events conspired against the Phillies.

The players' strike the following year canceled the 1994 postseason, and realignment of the major league clubs in 1995 put Philadelphia in the same division with the Atlanta Braves, who were in the midst of an unprecedented run of success in the 1990s (with the exception of their postseason performances).

In 2008, baseball, like the political parties, had the opportunity to end up with familiar finalists — the Dodgers, who lost the N.L. title to the Phillies, have been in the World Series 18 times, and the Red Sox, who lost the A.L. title to the Rays, have been there 11 times.

But both politics and baseball are writing new chapters this year.

Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday night in the Rays' ballpark.

By the way, for you baseball trivia experts out there, Thursday (when Game 2 is scheduled to be played) will be the 15th anniversary of Joe Carter's walk-off home run that won the 1993 World Series for Toronto against Philadelphia.

MY PREDICTION: I'm going to predict that Tampa Bay will defeat Philadelphia in six games. The Rays are looking like a team of destiny to me.

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